Getting our feet wet cruising throughout Florida, it was exciting to finally enter a new state. What a totally different experience it’s been. Over the last week had a great last couple nights in Florida and crossed into the Georgia's beautiful waterways. The highlights below.
For $25 had a stress free night.
We spent our first night on a mooring ball in St. Augustine, FL. For $25, you don’t have to worry about pulling into a tight slip or dragging your anchor. Instead, you can tie your boat to a ball already anchored to the bottom that is well spaced so there is enough room between boats. Not to mention, a great view of the town.
Went 40 MPH in Jacksonville.
Had a great couple days in Jacksonville, made even better by seeing some friends. Tori stopped by for happy hour and brought a killer spinach artichoke dip. Leslie and Jason swung by the next night to pick us up in their boat and headed for a short cruise (at times hitting 40 MPH) to dinner at Palm Valley Outdoor Bar and Grille. (If we took our boat it would take about ~3 hours).
The Carnegies are everywhere.
We spent a night at anchor outside Cumberland Island. Thomas Carnegie, Andrew Carnegie’s brother, purchased 90% of the island in the 1880s and built Dungeness, a huge estate, where the family would spend their winters. The home was later abandoned and burned in a fire in 1959, so is now only ruins. But, the Carnegie family built a few other properties on the island, some which are still standing, including the Greyfield Inn, the only commercial property on the island (yes you can stay there!). Tim’s friend’s family runs the inn and much thanks to their generosity we had a wonderful tour of the property and used their bikes to explore the island. For those without a hookup, the Carnegies donated most of the land to the government, and you can tour and camp on the island through the National Park Service.
Georgia has 500,000 acres of marshland.
We had no idea the majority of our time in Georgia would be winding through acres and acres of untouched marshland along the state’s 100 mile coastline. Except for the occasional fishing boat, we often were the only boat (or civilization) you could see for miles. The photos don’t do the scenery justice, but we mostly traveled through the state in awe of our surroundings (and making sure we had enough fuel to get us from point A to point B).
When water levels change 8 feet every 6 hours, it makes a difference.
When we were training in St. Petersburg, we got into the habit of checking the tides, but we never really paid close attention, since the water levels only changed about a foot or so. We are now paying attention because in Georgia, every 6 hours or so the water level changes 8 feet.
Water is usually always either flowing into to ICW (the waterway we are cruising along) or out of it. Sometimes our boat is going with the current, and we can pick up some speed up to 11 mph, other times we are going against it and we barely push past 6 mph. We also have to really pay attention to our depths. Luckily, we aren’t the first cruisers through this area, and Bob Sherer mapped a track Bob423 ICW, that avoids all the shallow areas and is updated frequently, and available for free. He even has a Facebook group for handy tips.
When waves get rough, we drive inside.
Because of strong currents, it is easy for sounds and inlets (where water is coming in/out of the ocean), to get rough easily, especially when the winds pickup or counter the currents. On a mildly windy day, we had to cross 4 of them and let’s just say the conditions inspired us to make sure we had our life jackets on. We got wet on our flybridge (top deck) and down below, our stuff went everywhere. We decided to try driving inside and found it was more manageable, but also learning to better time these crossings in the future.
Gator is pretty tasty.
There aren't a lot of marinas to stay between Jacksonville and Savannah. But we found Two-Way Fish Camp, a couple miles off the ICW and stayed a night. It is a small marina primarily for recreational fishing boats, but they also had a great seafood restaurant. Mudcat Charlie's, serving up $3 beers and fried gatortails (along with great fish sandwiches and onion rings). A guy named Mark who lives in his boat at the marina also is known to playing fun tunes from a speaker he puts in a bucket so the whole marina can hear. Fun Friday night.